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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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I asked my husband for a vacation for my birthday in October. I told him that that was al

Resolved Question:

I asked my husband for a vacation for my birthday in October. I told him that that was
all I wanted, and he agreed and didn't get me anything else, but took me out to dinner.

Since then, several times we have discussed dates and locations, but he wouldn't committ to anything.

Today, he tells me he has been invited to his old college football
reunion (he is 65 years old) in April and he was "debating" whether to take me.

When I ask him about why he won't commit to a joint vacation, he won't give me a straight answer and hems and has around the subject. Money is not the issue, and neither is vacation time (he gets 5 weeks a year, and he took off two weeks at Christmas and stayed home, even though I suggested taking a vacation then.)

We haven't had any vacation trips since last April.

I am furious, feel betrayed and let down, and think he
not telling

Help me!
I don't know how to handle this and get
what I need.
Thank you!
Melissa
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 2 years ago.
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue. The message he seems to be communicating to you through his behavior is that he desires to have certain level of independence and 'separateness' from you in this marriage. This separateness or independence would allow him to engage in activities alone, or with others, but without you. The message is that he either doesn't truly enjoy being with you or that he wants to reserve the option to do things by himself or with others you probably wouldn't approve of if you witnessed them.

I expect that this situation feels to you like he is taking you for granted, but worse, he wants to put a wall up you cannot see through because he wants to live just a bit of separate, almost 'secret' life, apart from the marriage. Now, it raises the question of whether he has shown signs of being interested in other women or other activities that are worrisome to you. What do you think?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I am not aware of any infidelity or activities with any one other then male friends. He has always been a "flip flopper" and hard to pin down in difficult discussions. everyone at works calls him the"great commincator" at work as he is a director of hr development, but he has always been a lousy communicator with me.

I would say part of what you say is correct, but then we were on our way to lunch and movie this afternoon, when he dropped this news on me.

I don't think it is that he doesn't want me to do things that I wouldn't approve of with me. He asked if he could invite another couple from work (his friend) to Valentines lunch with us. And then he explained away he ability to committ almost instantly to this trip, but not to a vacation with me, he said he was going to invite me to go too. (which is in his e-mail from his team mate).

We have been married 30 years, but yes, I don't feel appreciated and do feel taken for granted.

should I just take a trip without him, or try to work on this with him?
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 2 years ago.
You really SHOULD take the trip without him, because this was a birthday present he promised you. So, I would ask him again if he wants to go with you on your birthday trip and sit down to set a date; but I'd also tell him that you really want the trip and will go by yourself if he can't decide if he can make plans to go with you. Then, do it, definitely, with or without him.

The other plan you can attempt is to determine to compliment, reward and overtly 'recognize' any kind, considerate or cooperative thing he says or does with you. So for instance, if he invites you to lunch, you really need to reinforce that act of consideration by telling him and showing appreciation. "By the way, i really had a great time at lunch. It was so thoughtful of you to ask me. It makes me love you more when you do something so thoughtful". I don't know what words you might use, but you would emphasize the impact of his action on you and how it strengthens your relationship when does does it; and you'd couple the words with a hug or a kiss or sign of overt affection. And you would do something like this every single time he shows consideration of you. What you are doing is over time, over repeated linkages of his actions with your compliments and rewards, is slowly shaping his behavior so he is more consistently considerate of you over time. That is, people naturally do things more and more often, if they feel appreciated or rewarded for it in some way. Now, most women sit and wait for their husbands to do nice things, and when they DO NOT, they complain and focus on the absence of action, the oversights, the lack of consideration. I tend to recommend they stop doing this and focus all of their attention on any slight, small actions that show consideration and thoughtfulness, and then reward the heck out of it i.e.,'catch your husband being good, instead of catching him being bad all the time'. Guys are not that complicated in this arena---they really DO react over time to this approach if it is done consistently. This is pretty simple behavior change stuff but it does work. The other thing it does is cause changes in their wife's thinking about their husband. Sort of like wanting to buy a particular car and then you seem to see that model of car everywhere you look. But this is an experiment you can and should try for the next two months and keep a journal privately about how it is going, week by week. the other point I want to make is that women have absolutely nothing to lose in at least trying it, knowing they gave it a shot.

Now I don't really know what is going on with the trip he wants to take and may not want you along on. Any further speculations about this? It seems odd he can't schedule your birthday trip, but can schedule a trip with a friend, eh?

I'll pause here and solicit another reaction from you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I appreciate your advise. Yes, I am guilty of catching my husband "being wrong" instead of being right, but I am just so frustrated with him lately. All he talks about is work and his "buddies" from work who he bikes and plays golf with.

The other trip he has committed to, is to meet up with his fellow college football team for a team reunion that they do periodically. He says he was going to invite me, but a trip to Fayetteville Ark with old teammates is not a vacation to me! But usually he does want me to go to these kinds of trips. I don't know if it is to show off that he is still married (he was a bachelor until 38) or to show off to me, how great everyone thinks he is and listen to old football stories.

I have been to several of these reunions in the past, especially in the beginnig, as well as our son as been with his Dad to his reunions, but I kinda quit going because it is boring to me ( I am 10 years
younger than my husband, but this is his first marriage).

I have to agree with you that he does want to keep a somewhat "secret" life, but he has total freedom to do the things he wants to do with his time. I am more than generous and am not a jealous person. I have a very strong personality and don't act the "doormat" with him. I think that is why he married me. He once told me he "needed me", but still wouldn't clarify what that meant.

Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 2 years ago.
Does it make sense to you that you maybe should go on some of these trips even if you don't really want to or know in advance you'll feel bored? You alone, can decide if you'd rather NOT be bored and not go, or----go anyway, be bored, knowing you're mostly doing this in the context of 'catching him being good' i.e., he DID invite you to go along and you wish to show you appreciate this consideration.

Now you know that if you go along on some of these trips you'll be bored but what I try to get couples to do is plan 1-2 'minor' activities at the reunions where just the two of you will enjoy doing something together---maybe go to a show or walk through an art museum for a few hours; just one thing you share enjoyment with together. So 90% of the time he is revisiting glory days, and maybe 5-10% of the time the two of you will take a break for a few hours to do something together you'd both enjoy.

So if you stay home, so you won't be bored, I'd advise against communicating to him that you wish he hadn't gone; or wish he would have used that time to take you somewhere else. Again, this latter stuff is catching him being bad.

You can correct his behavior somewhat, over the long run, but you buy into the idea that the key idea for you right now should be to catch him being good. I'd be curious to see what happens if you do decide to shift the way you are framing getting your husband to appreciate you more, from focusing on what you are not getting right now, the anger, resentment etc., and for at least the next 2-3 months, making daily attempts to reinforce tiny signs of the more the kind of behavior you want to see i.e., catch him being good, and increasing the likelihood that he'll do more of this in the future if you do.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Please let me know if I have overlooked any aspect of your original question. Please click on the green Accept button at the bottom of the screen. Thanks.
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience: Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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